The Central Information Commission has directed the Bar Council of Delhi to proactively make public the cases of professional misconduct, both proved and not proved, against advocates at regular intervals or as and when the decision was taken.
“If a client complains against the professional misconduct of advocate, the bar council has a duty to examine it and to pronounce its decision not just to the complainant. Such a decision has to be in there public domain. Transparency requirement does not allow Bar Council of Delhi to keep its decisions secret,” Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu said in his order.
The case related to Tapan Chaudhary who sought information regarding the order passed in a complaint by the Bar Council of Delhi wherein advocates as Directors of the company have been allowed to file civil suits. Chaudhary wanted to know whether such an order could be reported in print and broadcast media but did not receive any response.
The Information Commissioner said any public authority has a mandatory duty to disclose reasons for its quasi judicial or administrative decisions to the affected persons as per Section 4(1)(c) of RTI Act voluntarily.
He said Bar Council being a public body has an obligation to report its decisions along with reasons.
Acharyulu said every professional body like Medical Council of India, Press Council of India and Bar Council of India has to report its decisions.
“The Commission agrees with the justifiable contention of the appellant and directs the Bar Council of Delhi to report/publish the cases of professional misconduct, both proved and not proved, at regular intervals or as and when the decision was taken in compliance of Section 4 (1) of RTI Act in their official website or journal or by any other means of publication convenient to it,” he said. Acharyulu said it is important to remember words of Krishna Iyer,
“Indeed, the monopoly conferred on the legal profession by Parliament is coupled with a responsibility- a responsibility towards the people, especially the poor” and that responsibility has to be practically visible in functioning of every advocate.
“If not people should know action against him. Right to know of the people arises out of this responsibility of Bar Council,” he said.
Acharyulu said Section 4(1)(d) of RTI Act, mandates the public authority to “provide reasons for its administrative or quasi-judicial decisions to affected persons”.
“Bar Council should understand the purport of above referred judicial pronouncements is properly understood, the Bar Council has to publish these reports because generally the entire people are positively affected by the good conduct to some extent and harmfully affected by misconduct of the advocates, and if the Bar Council punishes them or brings out genuineness of service, it will neutralize the impact.
“For that purposes it has to publish the reports of the disciplinary proceedings,” Acharyulu said in the order which had citations of number of Supreme Court judgments.